Shame on you Mr. Walker...
From Just pressplay.com
Robert Pattinson finds himself facing the same mountain that Daniel Radcliffe has begun to successfully scale: living down the pop-culture mantle cast upon him. Unlike Radcliffe however, Pattinson has wisely chosen to start the process with all due haste so as not to be forever known as “that Twilight vampire guy”. (the following part in red was absent in the original review)However, before Twilight was even a twinkle on his horizon, he made The Haunted Airman, a made-for-television movie first aired in the UK in 2006 and canned until this 2009 release when the American audience will get another taste of pre-Twilight Pattinson. Unfortunately, there's a strong parallel between the two roles. It may help show that he can do more than brood and talk wistfully about a romance he can't let himself have (although there is an element of that here as well) but there's still one distracting drawback: he still looks like a vampire.The Haunted Airman follows the right path to help Pattinson to that effect save for one thing: he still looks like a vampire. So much so that it outshines an unfortunately dim narrative which never fully establishes itself because of its stunted 70 minute run-time. You can see the plans for a good feature-length story, but the whole thing just peters out instead of climbing to the fully deserved dramatic climax. What a shame.(the following part in red was absent in the original review)Consequently it does little to help convince non-Pattinson fans of his range (which does exist).
Grounded flight lieutenant Toby Jugg (Pattinson) has taken psychological refuge in the care of Dr. Hal Burns (Julian Sands) who proposes a unique style of treatment (for all his patients) to get people back on their feet. As Burns treats Jugg and forces him to confront facets of his fears, he also denies his patient communication which begins to make Jugg doubt the good doctor’s intentions. The object of Toby’s written affections, Julia (Rachael Stirling), seems to mirror his sentiments but her compliance with Burns’ doctrine causes the patient a growing sense of unease. Eventually Toby begins to doubt his senses and eventually begins to wonder if the things he sees are real or hallucinations of his mania.
The familiar thriller skeleton was reanimated in the time of a world war to give the well-worn material a new spin – but it still feels all too old. The parts of The Haunted Airman that seem worthwhile in their own right never receive the development they deserve. Instead, it spends all its time rehashing the very generic story and consequently becomes just another lazy psychological playground. There was ample opportunity to tie Toby’s delusions into the unique time period setting and explore it fully from that angle, but it just never happens. Writers Chris Durlacher and Dennis Wheatley taunt us with the story they could have told and then just yank it away with no remorse.
As was said before, what really makes the film significant is the performances within and whether or not they help Pattinson distract from his pop-culture rampant appearance in the Twilight series (the following part in red was absent in the original review)- even retroactively. For most, this will be the second film they see Pattinson star in, making Twilight their frame of reference for the actor's abilities. Pattinson’s Toby Jugg easily has more depth than the brooding and terse vampire Edward, but thanks to the makeup effects and the black and white sequences in the film we’re reminded all too readily of the bloodless cheeks he sports in the other franchise. At least Radcliffe didn’t go on to play a young magician or facially scarred youth in his first non-Potter features, he at least had some sense of the distance he needed to place between his fame and his long-term career. (the following part in red was absent in the original review). The film's rerelease almost four years later for mass consumption does little to bolster his credibility. His performance may be stronger but it screams an unfortunate theme of dull characters. Even Little Ashes, in which he portrayed Salvador Dali, offered little variation in his distant and aloof style which has pervaded both Toby and Edward.Pattinson seems ignorant to this.(Gozde: He deleted the Pattinson seems ignorant part since the only person that's ignorant is Lex Walker here.)
Then we have Julian Sands, an actor it’s nigh impossible to say anything good about without adopting the same tongue in cheek attitude you think he’s using for all of his parts – even though he’s not. That’s just how he acts. His smarmy overacting affects every scene and after awhile you either learn to laugh along with his performance or it just bugs you. The former is recommended for The Haunted Airman, or the 70 minutes will feel like forever.
Visually the film has a very interesting aesthetic. On one hand the black and white treatment wanders too close to the Twilight feel that Pattinson needed to evade, but outside of that influence the film has definite appeal. The direction of Chris Durlacher (known for a string of made-for-television movies just like this one) lacks any real subtlety and as a result the hokey spider and spider-web visuals feel childish instead of creepy.
DVD Bonus Features:
You would like to think that they’d try to supplement a too-short film with some sort of padding (an interview or even a production piece) but it seems that’s just not the case
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